Elisabetta Cipriani is delighted to announce a unique exhibition with renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Cipriani works with internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to create one of a kind wearable sculptures made from precious materials. The exclusive collection by Ai Weiwei entitled Rebar in Gold will be on view at Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery in Mayfair from 12 November 2015 – 16 January 2016.
Rebar in Gold takes root in Ai Weiwei’s investigation into the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, which killed approximately 70,000 people. Ai’s concern focused on the distressing number of children who perished due to the poor construction techniques used to build government schools. Upon visiting Wenchuan after the earthquake, Ai found a mass of contorted steel rebar, left behind from the fallen school buildings. Ai purchased 200 tonnes of the material from the scrapyards where they were sent after the sites were cleared, for use in a bold body of work dedicated to the catastrophe.
For the exhibition at Elisabetta Cipriani, Ai Weiwei has chosen gold, a material traditionally reflecting eternity and wealth, a direct contradiction to the sudden, tragic destruction caused by the earthquake and as a consequence of substandard government building regulations. Rebar In Gold therefore serves as a delicate memorial to the human life lost among the earthquake’s rubble.
The artist presents unique pieces of handcrafted gold rebar in two lengths; 60cm and 20cm. As the gold is pure at 24 karat, it is flexible and each bar is individually bent by the artist, creating the first form for the wearer to then adjust on his or her wrist, finger or neck.
Ai Weiwei has designed a large-scale, purpose-built wooden structure in which to showcase the exceptional collection. Positioned at the centre of the gallery, the structure will house two display cabinets, custom-made by the artist and assembled from glass and huali, a wood used in traditional Chinese furniture.
About Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing where he lives and works. He attended Beijing Film Academy and later, on moving to New York (1981–1993), continued his studies at the Parsons School of Design. Major solo exhibitions include Royal Academy of Arts, London (2015), Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2014), Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis (2013), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (2012), Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (2011), Tate Modern, London (2010) and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009). Architectural collaborations include the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Stadium, with Herzog & de Meuron. Among numerous awards and honours, he won the lifetime achievement award from the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards in 2008 and the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation, New York in 2012; he was made Honorary Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2011. Most recently, he was awarded the Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International in 2015.